[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the Malian government on Thursday to prosecute soldiers [press release] who participate in violence toward suspected Islamist rebels and supporters. Government soldiers have allegedly participated in torture, summary executions and enforced disappearances that began after the French-led offensive in January helped Malian forces retake most of the north. HRW alleges that witnesses recently informed them that the government has tortured two men, summarily executed two more, and forcibly disappeared at least six others since earlier this month when the group reported [JURIST report] the summary executions of at least 13 men and enforced disappearance of five. Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at HRW, said:
All officials need to act in accordance with human rights law if security and law and order are to be restored to areas recently recovered by the government. This means providing basic due process rights for anyone taken into custody, and making sure they are treated humanely. Commanders who fail to stop abuses by their troops can themselves be prosecuted.
In an effort to prevent further abuses, HRW urged Mali’s international partners to increase accountability efforts and made recommendations to the Malian government on ways to address military abuses and provide civilian protection.
The Malian government allegedly denies knowledge of these acts of violence targeting particular ethnic groups amidst scrutiny from international sources. Last week the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] confirmed sending a four-person team to investigate [JURIST report] the claims of violence. International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] has also announced an investigation [JURIST report] into possible war crimes. A request [JURIST report] for an ICC investigation came last July from six West African nations.